Monday, June 28, 2010

Meditation Styles for Personal Development

"At the moment of waking up, before getting out of bed, get in touch with your breath, feel the various sensations in your body, not any thoughts and feeling that maybe present, let mindfulness touch this moment. Can you feel your breath? Can you perceive the dawning of each in breath? Can you enjoy the feeling of the breath freely entering your body in this moment?" "Breathe in I smile, breathe out I calm my body, dwelling in the present moment, it is a wonderful moment."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Many styles of meditation practice exist today. They generally involve focusing on energy centers in the body, concentrating on an image, chanting, or breathing exercises. Regardless of the style, they all share a common goal – to silence thought. When thought ceases a connection to the world of light, wisdom and pure consciousness occurs.

In the last decade meditation has become an important, although still minor, healing modality used by psychotherapists and rehabilitation institutions. It is being studied at the world’s largest universities. Science is finally confirming what was known to yogis for millennia: meditation helps us to heal emotionally, has a calming effect on our nerves, balances blood pressure, has excellent stress reduction properties, helps us to relax and to control pain. But whatever the ‘worldly’ benefits of meditation, its most important application is spiritual growth, which is impossible without contemplative practice.

The term "meditation" is often used both to denote the process or technique of meditation, as well as the state "elicited" by meditation practice. Usually during meditation there is concentration on a particular object or idea, such as a flower, a candle flame, a sound, a word (mantra), an image of a deity, or the act of breathing.

The state "elicited" by meditation depends on the nature of the person, on the method of meditation and on the experience of the meditator. Relaxation and the experience of inner peace, an improvement in relationships with relatives and friends, as well as an increase in the ability to concentrate and a clarification of the reasoning faculty, are natural signs that the practice of meditation is working. So with so many different types of meditation how is one to pick the right one? Let us examine some different types of meditation starting with Outer Path Meditation.

There is yoga meditation, holistic meditation for health, and Divine Light meditation. In Asia there is Confucian, Taoist, and Hindu forms of meditation. All these types of practices are Outer Path Meditation. This type of practice is attached to an object, or state of being. The outcome that is desired is a good feeling or feeling of tranquility. However, as with all things, states of being are in constant flux. And once the desired affect wears off or is more difficult to attain the individual becomes less enchanted with the practice. In the practice of this meditation one creates some happiness, but once this is achieved there is also its counterbalance unhappiness. This will always happen when your practice is based on an object or a feeling that you are attached too. When the person looses the object, or cannot keep it, they will loose their feelings of happiness as well. Meditation that is attached to some object or idea is called Outer Path Meditation.

Another form meditation is Common People’s Meditation this is any method of meditation that is used to improve performance. People who do this meditation are looking to get something. It is sometimes called concentration meditation. There are people who do meditation as part of their marital arts practice. Thinking ‘if I do this in this manner I will obtain greater results.’ It is also a popular method to teach writing, drawing, and painting. Some people use this type of meditation as they work with their therapist. Some use it to relieve mental and physical stress. All of these activities can be helped with the use of this form of meditation, but it cannot help you completely attain your true nature. The reasoning behind this statement is because performance meditation has its concentration on the I, me, my states of being. This is not the way to become free of suffering. That is because, by its very nature, want-something meditation always makes subject and object, good and bad. If you practice with this state of mind you are practicing Common People’s Meditation.

Mahayana Meditation is based on the six fundamental insights of Mahayana teachings: insight into the existence and nonexistence of the Dharmas; insight into the nature of form and emptiness; insight into existence and the Middle Way; insight into the nature of phenomena; insight into the interpenetration of all phenomena; and insight which sees that phenomena themselves are the Absolute. The practice of these six insights can be expressed by the teaching of the Avatamsaka-sutra: "If you wish to thoroughly understand all the Buddha of the past, present, and future, then you should view the nature of the whole universe as being created by the mind alone."

"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom."

Mindfulness is another form of meditation. It is meditation in action, and it is how we integrate meditation into all aspects of our daily lives until our whole life itself has become meditation. It is based on the Buddhist principle that whatever you focus on, you become. Buddhist believe that the mind is fluid. Whatever thought forms you hold in your mind will determine its shape.

"Do you think that you can clear your mind by sitting constantly in silent meditation? This makes your mind narrow, not clear. Integral awareness is fluid and adaptable, present in all places and at all times. That is true meditation… The Tao is clear and simple, and it doesn’t avoid the world."

Lao Tzu (c.604-531 B.C.E) from The Hua Hu Ching, (52)Chakra Meditation involves concentration on energy centers that are found in the astral (subtle-physical) body. These energy centers are located along a nonphysical energy tube called the sushumna. The sushumna in the astral body corresponds to the spinal column in the physical body, starting at the base of the spine and ending at the ‘third eye,’ between the eyebrows and a little above. Seven primary chakras are found at different points along the sushumna. Chi (energy) sits at the base of the spine in the first chakra.

During chakra meditation, chi is pulled from the first chakra up through the sushumna to the third eye. The desired affect of chakra meditation is to reach a point called Samadhi, or an enlightened state of being. Once a person has reached Samadhi a number of time the practitioner is well on their way to becoming enlightenment itself. When first learning this form of meditation it is best to focus at least 5 minutes on each chakra. The more advanced you become the longer you can stay at each point.

"It is not the number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things till the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that ensures your growth."

Frederick William Robertson (1816-1883) English American clergyman

The last mediation that I will discuss is Mantra meditation. Mantras were sacred words or phrases which, when repeated in meditation, bring the individual into a higher state of consciousness. The sounds that are produced during mantra meditation are a form of energy, which creates a connection to the worlds of light and spirituality. You can chant a mantra our loud, in a whisper, or just mentally let it vibrate within your mind. Perhaps the most famous mantra is OM MANI PADME HUM which translates as "the jewel in the heart of the lotus" or "Enlightenment is within everything." Chanting a mantra repeatedly for the duration of your meditation session will, over time, develop your abilities of meditation and concentration.

In closing, meditation is a powerful tool, one that not only provides us the opportunity to view life more closely, but also to slow it down and return to center. It helps us to remember what is really important, understanding our true calling in life. Through regular and persistent meditation we gradually become calm, centered and eventually we become free.

"When we talk about gaining the perfect wisdom of Buddha, we should not think that we need to create qualities in ourselves that are not there already, and acquire them from somewhere outside of us. Rather, we should see perfect Buddha wisdom as a potential that is being realized.
--H.H. The Dali Lama from "The Four Noble Truths" (Thorsons 1977)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Soul Mate Fallacy: Deconstructing the Relationship Myth

The Soul Mate Fallacy
Deconstructing the Relationship Myth 

"The purpose of relationship is not to have another who might complete you, but to have another with whom you might share your completeness."   Neale Donald Walsch

There are many different theories of how we became to be in our form having thoughts, needs, and desires. Why we are so diverse and why we seem to be so fixated on the idea of having one person complete us to the point where we need them in order to have a feeling of wholeness. Many times I have spoken to clients who just want to know who their soul mate is and when can they find happiness. Having been a reader since 1986 I have seen a lot of lives absolutely destroyed based on either not finding their one single person, or finding someone whom they feel is their soul mate, but just does not respond no matter what they do. I knew that the phrase soul mate was created back in the 1970's, but I really was more interested in finding out who was responsible for so much grief and misconception about relationships.

It starts far back in the time of Plato when he wrote Symposium. Speaking in the voice of Aristophanes he attempted to explain human sexuality as an intervention by Zeus. In this allegorical tale he told of multi-limbed creatures that were similar to humans, and explained why people in love felt “whole” when they met their ideal mate. Things were not as they are now beings used to be connected to another body. There were three types of beings who were like spherical creatures that wheeled around by their hands and feet doing what appear to be cartwheels. There were three different types of these creatures, or humans: two males, two females, or those who were androgynous, both male and female. Zeus had decided that these creatures were powerful, and that if they ever decided to get upset at the gods, they might be able to take over full power over everything. This idea came to fruition when the beings had tried to climb to the summit of heaven and cause war against the gods.

Zues decided that although he liked being worshiped and adored, he needed to put things on a more even keel. So he split the beings into separate persons, and created distraction among them so that they would take their minds off conquering heaven and concentrate on seeking out their other halves the one(s) that they were born with to live out their lives.

More recently, some have attempted to further “prove” the concept of a single “soul mate” by stating that the penultimate authority, Edgar Cayce, mentioned it in his prophecies. I am an admirer of the “sleeping prophet” who was one of the most successful psychics and medical intuitive in the United States, but I need to add that although he did skirt close to the subject, what he actually did say, many times was that there was not just one person who was perfect match. There were many relationship possibilities for each person.

When you meet someone who you feel like you have known before, but can’t place from where they are part of your soul experience. Your soul contains your entire memory of life experiences; however your present cognitive memory will not normally recall these memories.

These people you come into contact with were you feel this instant response in your soul have traveled with you in some aspect in past lives. Have you ever seen someone and right off you wanted to be by their side? This person has had a soul experience with you in the past. Also, it works the other way if you have seen someone and on sight decided you needed to leave they too have had a life experience with you. So as you can see the perceptions can be either positive or negative. What you do about these situations is based on your intuition or soul response. The whole reason why we are on the planet is to learn from each other. Edgar Cayce believed that we were to have both positive and negative experiences in order for the soul to grow and fully understand what it is to be human.

Helen Fisher PhD, and inspiration of Match. Com, studied thousands of couples during the 70's her focus was based on how people became interested in each other, and what made the relationship work or fall apart in the end. She wrote a book called Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. In this study she discussed 3 major reasons why there is such a strong drive to have physical connections. Each one of these reasoning's are connected to the brain for both sexual satisfaction, and in some cases the drive to reproduce. They are as follows: Lust: the strong physical desire to have sex with somebody, usually without associated feelings of love or affection, Attraction: a quality or feature that attracts somebody and, Attachment: an emotional bond or tie to somebody or something. Even in 2010 she is regarded as a prominent voice with regard to the human condition as it relates to relationships.

It is clear that any one of these reasoning's could start a relationship, but to keep a relationship moving into a long term lasting thing there is more required. Lust generally throws both partners into a bond that is purely physical, and rarely if ever broadens into anything more than just a short fling. If both individuals understand that this is simply a short sided encounter they have no delusions that it will turn into anything more, and allow it to begin and end without developing emotional attachments. Relationships that are built on attraction have more influence in how a person feels about their selves, and what they feel they deserve in a partner.

There are at times very strong pre-existing emotional ties to their viewpoints much of which is based on what they have viewed in their homes as juveniles, and later as teens. If a couple comes together based on similar experiences, and connect on an emotional level then there is a good chance that this relationship has a solid basis for a lasting relationship once they have decided if they are physically compatible as well, as emotionally connected. Finally, when a person becomes attached to someone it can either be the start of a wonderful fulfilled relationship, or one of extreme obsession. Attachment is needed to complete a pair bond it is necessary for both people to feel like they are loved completely. This healthy ideal is based on compassion, and a deep desire to see each other succeed in all areas of their lives. Those blessed with this bond can go beyond the physical needs, and experience a love that is boundless. However, being involved in an incomplete pairing can lead to feelings of despair, anxiety, detachment and in some instances suicide. What Helen Fisher, PhD did was put a name to different physical and emotional reactions we as humans experience while searching for our next partner

In 1977, Dorothy Tennov PhD, described some of the earlier findings of Helen Fisher by coining the term Limerence, "...being madly and overwhelmingly in love to the point of obsession." There is a feeling of euphoria, and a complete denial of any rational behavior. This person has been convinced that they have met their soul mate that someone who completes them. This person who is in limerence is truly incapable of logical thought, and is primarily concerned with pleasing their object of affection. A person who is in limerence will deny themselves, in some instances, to the point of incapacity.

If this occurs they find that they no longer have a desire to please their self, and will often loose sight of their self concept thereby fully embracing an unhealthy desire to continue this behavior. If their object of affection is narcissistic they will do whatever they can to continue the behavior as long as it suits them. However, once this attention is no longer suiting their needs they will withdraw and in this action will cause the person in limerence to become more forceful in their attentions. Having convinced their selves that all they need to do is fight for the continuance even if it leads to destructive behavior.

They may have friends, family mental health care provider, or even a professional psychic telling them that this is not a real relationship, and there is nothing that can be done to fix it, but they are convinced that their love interest actually wants them. The following is a list of ideals associated with the term soul mate. Take a moment to look over the list and see if you or someone you know may be saying these things about the person they are interested in:

• Someone who completes you
• Someone who accepts you no matter what.
• Someone who has the unique capacity to love you more fully than anyone else on the planet.
• Someone for whom you would not have to make major compromises.
• Someone with whom you have a deep connection that is not based on infatuation.
• Someone who is your greatest friend.
• Someone who you feel God has brought to you.

When looking for a partner many people seek out traits that have been listed above. They have been taught by multiple sources how they should feel and act when it comes to finding a partner. When initially they do find someone and they seem to have everything come together quickly and effortlessly they say yes, this person is the one.

In the beginning of the relationship there is a lot of contact, late night calls, early day excitement all things that seem wonderful just like Sex In The City. Then after a while the calls start to wane, the visits dwindle and then reality starts to edge in.

It’s a wonderful life when at first sweeps you off your feet and into bliss. What can possibly go wrong? When you loose yourself in the abandonment of love you also stand to loose more than your unhappiness you stand to loose yourself.

I can not begin to tell you how many times a client has come to me in tears completely beside themselves trying to figure out just where they went wrong when a relationship falls apart. And then they decide that they will do just about anything to make it work.

As a reader and a spiritual advisor I often find myself in the position of becoming a mentor as well. As long as the client has a clear head and is open to truly working on all areas of their life I can assist them in creating new habits that can prove to be more efficient in creating relationship bonds. The most important thing to learn when you are ready to face reality is: You are born being a whole individual. You were not made imperfect and that you are blessed simply because you breathe. Next if you are interested in seeking out someone else this person must be someone who is caring, compassionate, and gives you respect enough to be yourself.

You might say you are yourself when you are with someone and they still leave, or I just have to get away from them. You meet someone they are simply wonderful everything about them makes you want to yell on the highest mountain top I FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE! For days, weeks, even months you are on an emotional high and everything is perfect. Then you realize that friends are calling and saying hey where you been? You quit doing things you used to enjoy, and picked up a new routine of doing for your love interest. You stopped being you. This new someone has to remember that you had a life before they came in, and that for you to continue to be that same person they fell in love with you have to have your time too.

Many people ask me why they keep finding the same sorts of people to choose for a mate. Again it goes back to what you learned when you were younger, and the kinds of social situations you found yourself in as you were moving through your 20’s. How do you value your self worth? If you are in the mindset that you deserve peace, and consistency in all areas of your life then you most likely had a good example when you were younger. If however, your life was full of chaos and there was no consistency then you will most likely go through your life from relationship to relationship seeking peace, and finding only heartache and distrust.

Learning that this whole ideal of soul mates was initially formed to explain how people were formed as we are now is simply bizarre. Information is power and I am here to let you know that you can find that peace of mind along with a healthy relationship.

Part of this new perspective is to learn that there is no one person on this rock we call Earth that is just solely for you. You constantly evolve everything around you changes you. Even if you are agoraphobic you can still take in information by connecting to the internet and talking in chat rooms, or looking at social media. How you deal with this information can determine where you are in your personal life. If you expect to merely sit by and wait for something to happen you will end up severely disappointed.

What about praying and letting God bring this special someone to you? Prayer is extremely important to feeling secure and fulfilled to many individuals even those who come to me for advice. When someone says I have been praying and I have still not found my special someone. It is my opinion that God helps those who help themselves, and God is not going to do the hard work for you. I tell my clients who pray to whomever they feel guides them in their spiritual matters pray often, but do so with clarity.

If you are precise in what it is that you need, and what you are going to do to improve on your life then you will succeed. How do you create this success? You can create your future through the art of manifesting. Now, don’t go getting all wound up I don’t believe in just willy nilly think good thoughts and things happen. The art of manifesting ones future has a great deal to do with learning positive ways to handle life’s situations through physical, mental and spiritual work. It’s not that things will all the sudden become easier it’s that when you do things smarter you can create better results; thereby, creating your own road map to success.

Plato's Symposium:

Edgar Cayce Soul mates:

Helen Fisher:

Dorothy Tennov PhD and Limerence:

*Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who is helping me get the bugs out of this chapter, and I sincerely hope that it gives you all hope and clarity to help you live your life more fully.

If you are interested in a reading with Jackie Chin call 330-824-1286


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